The 2006 world champion bolted from fourth on the grid and quickly locked on to Casey Stoner's rear wheel - then refused to be shaken. For lap after lap the Repsol Honda rider clung to Stoner's Ducati, until his RC212V's engine began to feel 'tight'.

With his finger on the clutch, Hayden rode on hoping for the best but his engine was losing power, allowing Valentino Rossi to take second place on lap 11 of 27, then failed completely on lap 13 - forcing a visibly furious #1 to retire on the approach to Lukey Heights. Stoner went on to win the race comfortably.

"That's a tough one to swallow," admitted the American, winless so far this season. "That hurts because we were having a really good race and the bike was feeling by far the best it has all season without a doubt. Stoner was setting a hot pace - he was a little bit quicker in some places and I was quicker than him in a few places. I was trying to hang in there and rider smoothly and try not to preserve the tyres and not get too crazy too quickly. It's easy to speculate on what would have happened at the end of the race...

"After a few laps I was still right on him but all of a sudden the engine started to get tight and started slowing down. I was nervous but it kept running and I wasn't going to pull over so I kept one hand on the clutch. Eventually she tied up and that was it - another 'goose egg' in the points column. It's really frustrating - it seems like the deck's stacked against us at the moment, but we'll hang in there and hopefully get a bit of luck going our way soon. We've got two more tries," he concluded, referring to the two remaining rounds.